Anti-Israeli Rallies in Damascus, amid Reports of Imminent Visit by Arafat
by Nabil Al-Mulhem
Large crowds of anti-Israeli, pro-Palestinian demonstrators were marching from the downtown area of the Syrian capital to the US embassy Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, there have been unconfirmed reports that Palestinian President Yasser Arafat is to visit Syria.
Tens of thousands of protestors were holding banners condemning “peace settlement and Israeli occupation,” of Arab lands, while chanting slogans against the Jewish state and the US. They set alight the flags of both countries.
The marches, which had been going on peacefully when the report was posted, were escorted by police forces who expected violence when the crowds arrive at the embassy.
During the many rallies witnessed by Damascus in support for the Aqsa Intifada, there have been clashes with anti-riot police. The US embassy was attacked last week by the angry protestors.
The United States has decided to close down on a temporary basis 13 of its embassies in Arab capital, where anti-American sentiments are high.
Meanwhile, there have been unconfirmed reports that President Arafat would arrive in Damascus for talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad, who on Tuesday assured Arafat on Syrian support of the Palestinian upraising when both leaders discussed on phone the latest development in the region.
Damascus has also been a stage for intensive diplomatic efforts aimed at defusing the explosive situation in Palestine and Lebanon.
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Karrazi arrived in the country for talks on the latest developments while EU Foreign Policy Chief, Javier Solana, and British Foreign Minister, Robin Cook are expected in Damascus later in the day.
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)